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Laval (Sept. 29, 2019) – Despite a flurry of scoring chances, the Laval Rocket lacked opportunism and concluded their pre-season against the Belleville Senators with a 2-1 overtime loss Sunday afternoon.
The Rocket were off to a strong start, peppering netminder Filip Gustavsson with seven shots in five minutes of play. Hayden Verbeek and Michael Pezzetta found themselves on a two-on-one but the latter just missed the net. The second trio comprised of Alexandre Alain, Lukas Vejdemo and Nikita Jevpalovs were also strong on the forecheck, sustaining offensive momentum. However, the Senators’ Josh Norris was first to score, defeating netminder Connor LaCouvee on his blocker side. Much like the first pre-season game played between the two rivals, the Rocket were dominant in the Senators zone but were unable to solve Gustavsson, who stopped numerous quality scoring chances, including a one-timer in the slot from forward Phil Varone, among others. The Rocket left the first period down 1-0 with a 15-5 shot advantage.
Despite a second period in which penalties dictated and slowed the pace of play, the Rocket managed to obtain a number of quality scoring chances. Jevpalovs received a golden opportunity to tie the game on a breakaway while the Rocket was shorthanded but goaltender Joey Daccord, who replaced Gustavsson at the start of the frame, denied the second year Laval forward. LaCouvee, who was replaced by Michael McNiven with 6:48 left in the second period, wasn’t tested much in the game but made a few key saves. The Rocket ended the period on the penalty kill with 21-10 shot advantage after 40 minutes of play.
As the Senators upped their tempo, the Rocket continued to find ways to challenge Belleville’s defence as Varone missed a wide-open net and defenceman Josh Brook flashed his skill and deked past Belleville’s defence but couldn’t score. A little over eight minutes into the final frame, Joe Cox sent a one-timer past Daccord after a faceoff win by centre Kevin Lynch to tie the game at 1-1. McNiven made several key saves in the period, including a pad save on Cole Cassels off a two-on-one chance down low. Tied after 60 minutes of play, the game ended up in overtime. Joseph LaBate scored the game winner 2:50 into overtime. The Senators leave Laval with two pre-season wins.
Scorers: LAV: Cox (Lynch) | BEL: Norris (Davidsson) | LaBate (Aspirot, Dougherty)
Goaltenders: LAV: LaCouvee (8/9) | McNiven (14/15) | BEL: Gustavsson (18/18) | Daccord (8/9)
Three stars: 1. Joseph LaBate – BEL | 2. Jonathan Davidsson – BEL | 3. Michael McNiven – LAV